Somewhere right now, White Denim is squeezed into a dimly lit club or dive bar or Italian restaurant in London or Austin or St. Augustine, weaving together 10-minute long tirades of jazz punk psychedelic rock-infused euphoria. Lead singer/guitarist James Petralli’s feet are ceaselessly working the peddles to Josh Block’s shifty yet fluid drum work. And Steve Terebecki’s fingers are violently snapping the bass. It is a perfectly consuming fit of melody that is best enjoyed with a Pabst and a couple of rowdy friends. —Andrew Lewis
SURFING MAGAZINE: YOU GUYS ARE KIND OF A BIG DEAL IN THE AUSTIN MUSIC SCENE, HUH?
JAMES PETRALLI: We “toured” Austin for a year and a half before we hit the road. Back then we all had full-time jobs and could only get in the studio on the weekends, so we were pretty limited. Plus, James and I are from Texas, so we just gravitated to Austin. Every state has its cultural center and Austin is definitely the epicenter in Texas.
AND HOW DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER?
Josh and I were on a bill with a band that Steve was in and at the time we didn’t have a bass player. So, after the show, we kind of scribbled out the name on some random business card and wrote our names on it and gave it to Steve. A couple of months later he gave us a call and we ended up playing at a club called Beerland in Austin. That was four years ago now.
HAS YOUR SOUND EVOLVED SINCE?
We started out not thinking too much about our sound on purpose. We all played something different before White Denim and we wanted all of it to slip into our music. We’re pretty aggressive Rock ’N Roll, but now you’ll find bits of smooth jazz-type stuff in our songs. One year of touring and it seems like we’re wanting to play quieter and with more notes.
BUT YOUR LIVE SHOW SEEMS TO DEFY THAT NOTION A BIT.
Yeah, our live shows are still kind of rowdy. We only stop maybe three times. It’s a lot of medleys and a dissection of many tunes. Like, we all love Sly Stone’s TV appearances from the ’60s. We want to try and have that kind of energy on stage for over an hour every time.
YOU’RE A SELF-PROFESSED UK BAND. EXPLAIN.
We’ve just done a lot of shows there and people are used to us now. The crowds get pretty rowdy over there in “industry” towns, like London. But we’ve had some pretty rowdy shows in Boston, a cool diner in St. Augustine and an Italian restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia where we opened for some rap group —full crowd surfing and break dancing…in an Italian restaurant. That was a memorable one.
Careful, you may find yourself speeding while listening and driving. From the harmonic jazz undertones of “Sitting” to the driving riffs of “Shake Shake Shake,” there is no chord that isn’t touched or tweaked.